The Federal Government has cut funding for the only national peak body for Indigenous survivors of family violence and sexual assault.
Following June 30, 2020, the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services (NFVPLS) Forum will no longer receive their yearly fund of $244,000.
NFVPLS Forum Chair, Antoinette Braybrook, expressed her outrage at the funding withdrawal.
“Yet again we are forced to fight to get our funding back. This not only drains our already limited resources. It rips Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s voices out of critical national conversations,” Ms Braybrook said.
Nationally, Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence and 10 times more likely to die from violent assault than non-Indigenous women.
While the Federal Government cited the independent evaluation by Charles Darwin University (CDU) as the basis for its decision, NFVPLS Forum Deputy Chair said this was “baseless and unjustified”.
Rather, recommendations from the report instead suggested an increase in resources for the national peak body to ensure it continues its operations effectively.
The move resembles the axing of the Indigenous Legal Assistance Program (ILAP) in the Federal 2019-20 Budget after an independent review concluded it should continue as a standalone program.
The funding cut comes after Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, announced an increase in funding for frontline services at FVPLS providers across the country.
Ms Braybrook welcomed the frontline funding, however remained wary of the national body’s funding uncertainty.
The annual near quarter-million dollars awarded to the Forum each year pales in comparison to the millions that were stolen from the WA Government’s Department of Communities for over a decade.
Minister Wyatt has defended his decision, saying he is committed to supporting First Nations people who have experienced family violence.
“Suggestions the Government is attempting to silence the voices of women are incorrect,” Minister Wyatt said in a statement.
The Minister said the $244,000 will now be equally distributed to the 14 FVPLS providers across the country.
“[This will] enable [providers] to be directly involved in a co-design process to determine the best approach to ensure the continued role of the National Forum.”
By Hannah Cross